White-collar workers ‘doing something’ for shopkeepers

White-collar workers ‘doing something’ for shopkeepers

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
White-collar workers ‘doing something’ for shopkeepers

This file photo shows a barber shaving his customer in a barber shop in Istanbul. Volunteer IT experts have been working on a mobile application that will show users the locations of local shops and their specialties. Courtesy of the group ‘Beyaz yakalılar bişi yapsa

Turkish white-collar workers have come together on a social media platform to “do something” to remind the public about the existence of often-overlooked neighborhood shopkeepers by launching a mobile application.

This movement began during Gezi Park incidents that put the concerns of the shopkeepers on the agenda, in the beginning of June.

“Gezi made an impact on the public in general. I believe that everyone from all viewpoints started to ‘realize’ something new, became ‘aware’ and questioned the values of our society,” a member of the group “Beyaz yakalılar bişi yapsa” (If white-collar workers did something) said in a recent interview with the Hürriyet Daily News.

The member said that after the Gezi Park incidents, they decided to transform their personal awareness into something that could create values on a common ground.

“At that time, the shopkeepers’ [problems] were topical. We preferred to do something for the shopkeepers, independently from Gezi Park. We aim to make people informed about small shops, like grocers, tailors and shoe shiners, generally located in out-of-the-way areas in neighborhoods. Backing shopkeepers is important for two sides: While we are protecting our values [because shopkeepers are a part of the neighborhoods], they will be able to survive. It’s reciprocal. We created a group on Facebook that now has 16,000 members,” he said.

Mobile app to promote shops

Nine volunteer IT experts have been working on a mobile application that is slated to be completed within three weeks, he said. “This application will show the location of shopkeepers along with pictures of them and comments, loaded and written by users. A person who has this application will be informed by a pop-up with a notification like ‘You are near to X grocery in Beyoğlu district that has very delicious sandwiches.’ There won’t be a ‘like’ feature because we don’t want to create a competition between them.”

In addition to this, the group has just started a campaign “İki ekmek bir süt” (Two loaves of bread and one bottle of milk) to encourage people to conduct at least a small part of their shopping at local shops.

“I know that we will continue to do shopping from supermarkets because we have habits, but it is just a start,” he said.

However, they have already shared many videos, pictures and interviews with the shopkeepers on social media in order to draw attention.

Other projects

The group also has other projects on the agenda. The first of them is to create a website to bring together university students and people from 50 different professions. “For each profession, a person’s video will be published, in which he or she will describe the job with its advantages and disadvantages while also giving recommendations to the students,” he said, adding that the student’s questions would be received and answered.

The second project is to prepare a city tour guide for people with disabilities. “We need many volunteers to discover the streets of the districts in order to know every detail. For instance, the city guide will include information such as ‘this restaurant has an available entrance for wheelchairs,’” he said, adding that they had to obtain official permission to take pictures of premises.